Connection

It’s easy to be anonymous in London. It’s one of the things I like about large cities. I  gravitate towards places where I can hide in plain sight. It creates the illusion of belonging without actually having to interact. The tube is an extension of this anonymity.

People cram into carriages, eyes straight ahead, glued onto the paper or their phone. The only goal is to make it to the final destination without hearing the words, incident on the tracks or signal failure. Commuters don’t really pay much attention to each other, unless it’s to deliver a withering look to someone who stole the seat they had their eye on.

So it shouldn’t have been surprising to me that no one had noticed the woman in front of me was crying. I’d had to double-take to be sure. Her mascara was running, she sniffed and shook emotionally. I felt a twinge in my chest and it grew when I realised the rest of the carriage was oblivious to her.

Most people are generally too busy with their own drama to notice anyone else’s. I don’t think it’s a London thing, just a human thing. I guess getting involved in someone’s sadness is messier than jumping onto the happy bandwagon. Sadness is awkward.

I’ve been on anti-depressants for nine months and am currently weaning myself off them. Having suffered from chronic depression as long as I can remember, I’ve always been strangely proud of the fact I’ve avoided medication for decades. But there comes a point when you can’t get out of bed, or get a job and you decide to take the help. It’s an act of kindness. Maybe that’s why I offered the woman the tissues.

I didn’t want to pry or give her a pep talk. I just wanted to be nice to her. To empathise. I’d been in tears on the tube days before and managed to pass under everyone’s radar, much to my own relief. We’re not meant to be unhappy in public. It’s something kept behind closed doors and smiling faces.

There’s a shame in being sad for some reason. I saw it when she took the tissues and tried to compose herself. I felt it every time I turned down medication. It’s like an admission of failure: I just couldn’t stay happy.

People distance themselves from sadness like it’s contagious. I’ve noticed it with my own depression. It’s feels like I have a shitty superpower that makes me invisible when I’m down. People want to laugh and get their endorphin high. I spent years hiding it and trying to fit in with the rest of the tube.

I told the woman to keep the tissues. This led to a random stranger offering me several packs of Kleenex. It felt like a thank you for my intervention, and a little like handing over a joint to the nearest person in the circle when you can see the 4 0 coming. He didn’t want to be caught holding in the face of a crying woman.

Yeah, sadness is awkward.

 

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The Trust Paradox

It’s recently dawned on me that I can’t get that trust balance right. I want to be trusting, but I think the worst. I can ask a stranger to watch my things while I go to the bathroom, but I guarantee that seconds later I’m envisioning my identity being stolen, my laptop being trashed and someone trying to insert their genitals into the USB port in some bizarre sex hate crime. It’s an emotional razor edge.

Apparently, the people closest to you set the benchmark when it comes to our ability to trust. My family were the litmus test for the rest of society. Unfortunately for me, they were also people who lied for sport and couldn’t be trusted as far as you could collectively throw them.

My dad used my trust as the set up to his jokes. Like the time he bought me a bucket and spade before taking me to a pebble beach. Or the time he made us watch Aliens promising us that a clown was about to pop out of  John Hurt’s stomach. Our tears gave him more than our trust ever could. In return we got nightmares.

My sister learnt from the best and continued my dad’s experiments. Each lie was a toe in the pool of my credulity to see how deep it went. Could she convince me to slide down a bannister to jab me in the arse with a pin? Could she hang me from a curtain rail by telling me she wanted to see how long my hair was? Yes, yes she could. I deserved to lose that hair.

Even my mum had her moments. She wasn’t mean, just out of her depth and filled with wives tales. My favourite being that I needed to cover myself in turmeric if I wanted to get rid of unwanted hair. Some fun facts about turmeric: it has no depilatory qualities and stains skin bright yellow. It was like highlighting the hair.  

Trust works paradoxically. You only figure out that you can’t trust someone by trusting them. By then you’re locked under the stairs, looking like a hairy Lego and clutching a bucket and spade.

Even so, I continue to put my faith in people. It’s easier than burying my stuff in the sand like a Samiad, or having a catheter put in. Most of the time I’m pleasantly surprised. When you were imagining someone spitting in your coffee, the only way to go is up.

 

Herd Mentality

I’ve been binge watching Planet Earth. So far I’ve seen a wolf kill an ox, a shark kill a seal, a seal kill a penguin and global warming kill a polar bear. With the exception of the polar bear all the other animals were picked off from their herd, which got me thinking about our herds.

As much as we try to separate ourselves from animals, we have a lot in common. Being part of a group is one of them. We may no longer need a tribe to hunt, or protect ourselves from wild animals, but having a tribe makes an uncertain world seem less scary. It’s also a seal of approval on who we are and how we live our lives.

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Remember High School?

Even though we don’t depend on the squad for survival in the same way musk ox might, our herd is important to us. Penguins work as a team to survive harsh weather. Lions hunt in prides to take down bigger prey. We lean on our inner circle for support, advice and companionship. But where animals are unified by species and survival, our groups are selected from who’s closest.

Though our main social groups are comprised of whomever we interact with most frequently, there are people that we pick out and maintain friendships with over distance and time. We like to think it’s because there’s something special about them. The reality is a tad more narcissistic. Studies show that friends who support our sense of identity are more likely to be kept around. If you see yourself as a high school prom queen, chances are you’ve surrounded yourself with people who see you the same way.

Our herd reflects who we are, or at least the version of you that you identify most with. If you’ve changed and evolved as a person, it stands to reason that your herd has too. One way or another.

It’s because your herd matters. The right friends can help you to  grow as a person and achieve your potential. Similarly, hanging out with the wrong crowd can limiting. The need for approval and fear of being cast out is powerful. You can get stuck in old patterns and trapped in a version of yourself that isn’t true to who you are. If you’ve ever tried to break up with a friend, you’ll know it can be just as hard as a romantic break up.

If you’re in the right herd you all grow and evolve together. If not then it can be bittersweet. It’s all part of being human. It beats being taken out by a shark, I suppose.

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Social Media Take the Wheel

When you’re in times of trouble, document your rage online.

Daniel was tired. I was tired.

The customer service call was just going round and round in circles. He kept telling me there was nothing he could do. My claim had been rejected. I calmly repeated that by law I was entitled to that refund. The airline had lied.

I’d had a flight cancellation the month before. There’s actually been a surge in cancellations and airlines going bust. Subsequently, consumer rights were being published everywhere.

When my flight from Amsterdam was cancelled at a minutes notice the first thing I’d received was a text from a mate with my rights. The airline gave me a poxy food voucher and the assurance that my hotel and transport would be refunded. My rights would be observed.

As I heard Daniel sigh and repeat once again that there was nothing he could do, I regretted staying so calm. While everyone else grumbled, I remained positive. One jackass in particular, demanded compensation there and then. He practically wanted to be piggy-backed to a hotel and then back to his rescheduled flight.

Clearly that angry little man could see into the future.

A month on my claim had been rejected on the grounds I hadn’t tried hard enough to get help. Unless you’re yelling at someone you’re not trying. I wish I had been as forthright in person as I had been on WhatsApp.

Why is it when you don’t cause trouble people take that as a sign that you’re a pushover? I can be angry. Anyone who knows me knows I got sass coming out…well, my mouth. I just pick my fights.

This was fighting talk.

Providing evidence of something that didn’t happen is like getting home with a new CD and opening it up to find nothing in the case. Vueling was saying I’d already gotten the CD.

This made me want to kerb stomp someone. But before my rage got the better of me, I did what I always do when angry: I took to social media. And that’s when I realised where my evidence was.

I may not have yelled at them to their faces, but I yelled into the void that is the internet. It saved my experience in slideshow mode to be enjoyed as Memories at a later date.

Never before had calling someone fucking useless been so useful. I got to send them every abusive message I’d written on the topic. I even sent them a video. It wasn’t nice.

I just got an email saying they would refund me the total amount.

The next time someone moans about you doing a Facebook you tell them you’re doing the online lord’s work.

Follow me on Instagram to make sure you don’t miss a rant that could potentially be state’s evidence: @BeigeGurl

Let me be Brief

The battle for most practical panties seems to be on. Gone are the days of pants simply hiding your shame and offering a paltry barrier to the cold. Now they actually DO stuff.

In the Red Corner…

For those of you who haven’t been exposed to the viral advertising campaign infecting Facebook feeds, THINX are a brand of underwear intended for use during your period. Think luxury period pants meets feminine hygiene products.

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Here comes the science

No more panicking when you think you’ve come on, or having to make sure every purse you own has an emergency tampon in it. THINX has you covered from flow and hygiene, to style.

Now, I’m no Mila Kunis, so maybe the awesomeness of my undergarments being more ‘period friendly’ is lost on me. Like most women, I learnt to be careful and always prepared. Unlike Kunis, I also don’t have $100 to spend on a cycle set that saves me from having to pay that annoying tampon tax. It’s a shame.

Miki Agrawal, She-EO, seems to have good intentions; she’s setting up an education foundation, giving back to women who need it and trying to bust the menstruation myth. The sale of each pair of undies contributes to Afripad, a Ugandan project that makes reusable sanitary pads for women at an affordable price.

So wearing underwear finally pays off.

In the Blue Corner…

The good intentions behind AR Wear’s anti-rape underwear will lead us all directly to hell. In an attempt to take action against the rising number of sexual assaults in Germany, an inventor has created a fashionable looking…well, chastity belt. Clearly a future where men were taught to respect women’s bodies, control their urges and were adequately punished when they didn’t, was looking unlikely.

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Drinking in these bad boys is gonna be rough

The underwear is cut proof and locked into place, thus thwarting any would be sexual assailants. Because we all know someone with a knife, aggressive enough to try and cut off your underwear during an assault will just shrug and toddle off when they realise there’s no getting in…

 

I’d much rather put £87 toward a taser.

There is always the hope the government will invest. Then they could issue women with a few pairs. That way if attacked we could  neutralise the threat with a taser and then put his genitals in prison until the authorities arrived.

The message is bleak and antiquated: Lock up your daughters.

And the winner is…

If I thought the right underwear was the answer to anything, I’d be wearing as many problem solving pairs as I could. However, between these two ideas THINX seems to have a more feminist and life affirming message. It also manages to flip off that stupid tampon tax that I loathe.

 

Numbers game

Women who sleep with my boyfriend, then have the cheek to comment on my sexual history will be verbally decimated.

There is nothing that will get a woman more angry than finding out she’s being cheated on.

Oh wait, how about his side chick calling her promiscuous.

“He thought that because you’ve slept with so many more people than him that you wouldn’t be happy with him. He was always worried.”

Yeah, that happened.

A married ‘Christian’ woman who had been looking for Jesus in my ex’s boxers, was using my sexual history to justify  her arseholery.

I should have pointed out the irony, but why confuse her further with fancy words?

I’d love to say it was the first time my sexual activity has been commented on. But, as an asian woman I am used to people commenting on my dating life. Jokes have been made about my revolving door dating system. My parents stopped bothering asking if I will settle down. And I have learned to shrug off the questions fishing for confirmation of how many people I have slept with.

Not enough I say.

I am used to friends taking the piss about my dating life. It’s part and parcel of sharing it so openly on social media. It’s funny. I have no problems with it. So why should anyone else?

But, oh they do. And rather than accept that it’s their issue, their insecurity and their choices, they want to make it my issue, my insecurity and about my choices. All of a sudden it’s all about numbers.

The more open minded people I meet seem to have no problem with how many people I have slept with. They also tend to have slept with significantly more people than I have. So why would they care?

As long as you’re the lower number you’re fine.

Funnily enough, I have seen the same nonchalance disappear when it’s turned out I’ve slept with more people than they have. Then they spit out their Starbucks, awkwardly mumble something about doing what you want with your body, before quickly leaving.

Probably to call a group of women together for an orgy to get their numbers up.

It’s a strange phenomena. It doesn’t make me regret a thing. Just taught me to never share numbers, or waste too much time on people who seem obsessed with mine. The issue is clearly their own.

Nothing good comes from sharing numbers.

Unless they’re phone numbers for hot guys you’re going to unashamedly bang.

Haters Gonna Hate

Why have some people got their panties in a bunch about loving Pokemon Go?

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Shout out to my fellow trainers. “When Pokemon hunting is lit”

As a Pokemon fan from way back, nothing has made me happier than the chance to update my pokedex, get out there and meet other like minded nerds.

We’re adorable.

Think of us like asexual doggers, wandering around parks and scenic routes, looking for invisible creatures, which we then get mad excited about and try to catch using our smart phones.

It’s great fun.

I’ve met people in my community, had lovely conversations and laughed with people in the sun. It’s been really interactive and in a healthy, positive way.

So why is it when a group of people look like they are having completely harmless fun, someone will come along and either a) try to ruin it b) try to take advantage of it or c) criticise it?

Yesterday a group of hackers took down the  game making it impossible to get online. Why? I don’t know, why does someone step on your transformer when you’re about to launch a stealth attack? Fuckery.

Then there have been the stories of a few opportunists who have seized on the whole excitement to mug people. Yes. Mug people.

“There’s a rare pokemon down this alleyway….Now give me your wallet.”

Ok, some users need to be more grounded in reality. But what a bummer to be reminded when you’re trying to have fun, that some jackass will do anything to spoil it.

Which brings me to kill joys.

Why does Judgy McJudgerson care how old I am and if I know what I look like?

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See? Hawt

  I look like a hot pokemon trainer. If I choose to run around my local park, smile on me like a Cheshire cat, and I’m having fun, why does it bother you? If you don’t want to play, fine. But please don’t project your misery onto me under the guise that you’re worried I’m making a fool of myself.

Guess what? I give zero fucks how I look.

I may take it a step further and go PokĂ© hunting in my Wonder Woman costume. If this makes you uncomfortable, guess what? That’s you not me.

People need to lighten up. There are far worse things happening in the world today.

Now if you don’t mind, A Snorlax has been spotted by the duck pond.

Gotta Catch’em all!

Pokemon trainer humour at Cosmo for the Go lovers! 

http://www.cosmopolitan.com/entertainment/news/a61383/hilarious-pokemon-go-pictures/